Songs of Urban Renewal

Songs of Urban Renewal


Spatial Topics in Music is the series on this podcast where I select a geography theme and do a little dive into some of the popular songs that pay tribute to that theme.

On this episode, we’re listening to Songs of Urban Renewal – one of those city planning phenomena that kind of sounds like it should be a good thing. But don’t be fooled! It is/was terrible!

Urban renewal, popular but not limited to the 1950s-70s, has become known for basically tearing down good stuff and stuff associated with the working class and people of color, and replacing it with overly large and hideous highways, soulless surface parking lots, and behemoth office complexes that don’t exactly speak to the neighborhood context.

Urban Renewal protest sign in Boston

Songs Featured on this Episode

Jonathan Richman – Corner Store

The Pretenders – My City Was Gone

Joni Mitchell – Big Yellow Taxi

Talking Heads – Nothing But Flowers

Guy Clark – LA Freeway

Sufjan Stevens – Movement II, Sleeping Invader (from The BQE)

PJ Harvey – The Community of Hope

Curse you, Brooklyn-Queens Expressway!

What did I miss? Any other songs relevant to urban renewal/the destruction of perfectly good urban stuff in the name of “progress” that you can think of? Comment away!

Great Moments In Environmental Justice

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